If you find yourself in a situation in which the lighting isn’t quite right for your picture, it’s time
to bump up the camera’s ISO value. Remember that most, but not all, cameras come with ISO
adjustments, so review your user manual to see if this applies to your particular model. You can
see a typical ISO adjustment in the following illustration; you’ll probably find it in the onscreen
menu system, displayed in the liquid crystal display (LCD) screen on
Here are some situations in which you might need to increase the ISO:
■ You’re shooting in a low-light situation, such as early evening or indoors. Natural-light
photos have a certain appeal, and by increasing the light sensitivity of your camera you
may be able to shoot a picture without using the flash at all. Using natural light can
eliminate harsh shadows and produce more natural colors.
■ Your subject is too far away for the flash to have any effect. During the day you might
be outdoors and want to take a picture of something, but there’s not quite enough light—
such as in winter or during very overcast conditions. Your camera wants to use a flash,
but your subject is just too far away. As you’ll see in Chapter 5, the flash on your digital
camera has a very limited range; so to properly expose your picture, you need to use
“faster film”—that is, increase the camera’s ISO setting.
■ You’re shooting at night. Most digital cameras have limited ability to take pictures at
night or in near total darkness. As a result, if you want to capture anything at all with a
night shot, you may need to increase the camera’s light sensitivity to the maximum.
If night photography interests you, investigate what I refer to as “performance” digital
cameras—cameras that include manually adjustable shutter speeds and apertures.
Using more full-featured cameras lets you perform long exposures for light trails,
glowing illuminated signage, and other special effects.